The Department of Agriculture (DA) will double efforts to tighten security over the entry of fresh and processed meat into the country as the deadly pork disease African Swine Fever (ASF) hit countries closer to the Philippines.
As this happens, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the country will also tighten security on the illegal entry of fruits and plants.
Piñol said the DA’s Bureau of Plant Inustry (BPI) will be asked to submit a program on the deployment of K9 sniffers at the airports to check the illegal entry of agricultural products like fruits and planting materials.
This, as the agency’s program to protect the country from the entry of illegal fresh and processed meat, especially pork, is now off to a good start after trained sniffing dogs recently scored a perfect 100 percent success rate in a test run at the NAIA International Terminal.
“The use of the K9s in detecting meat and poultry products brought in by passengers will be institutionalized by the DA and will be implemented in all ports of entry of the country,” Piñol said. “We will expand it so it could also cover plants.”
Ronnie Domingo, acting Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) director, reported that during their training, three K9 Meat Sniffers – a Giant Schnauzer and two German Shepherds – successfully detected four boxes of processed meat which were strategically placed near the cargo conveyor area of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.
Such deployment of sniffing dogs was the second test run for the first batch of 15 K9s meat sniffers in a program aimed at protecting the local livestock and poultry industry from the entry of ASF
This batch will be leased by the DA in the amount of about P28 million every year, while the DA will procure another 30 dogs which are now undergoing training.
To recall, Philippines is now on high alert as ASF hits Hong Kong, an autonomous territory located in southeastern China and is only more than a thousand kilometers from away from here.
Piñol said that quarantine officers of BAI have been directed to institute stricter measures in monitoring the entry of meat products, especially pork from Hongkong, following the reported outbreak of ASF there.
“Incoming passengers are warned that bringing in meat and other agricultural products without the necessary permit, especially those coming from ASF affected countries, could be slapped a fine of up to P200,000,” Piñol said. (Madeleine Miraflor)